The short answer to whether a dental abscess can affect your general health is Yes. This is because, although the manifestation is localised, the implications of dental abscess for general health can range from significant to serious.
What is a dental abscess?
A dental abscess is a collection of pus that forms in your teeth or gums as a result of a bacterial infection. The main symptom of dental abscess is a severe, throbbing toothache or pain at the site of the abscess. The pain usually comes on suddenly and then gets gradually worse over a few hours or a few days. Other possible symptoms include: tenderness of your tooth and surrounding area, sensitivity to very hot or cold food/drinks, an unpleasant taste in your mouth, difficulty opening your mouth, difficulty swallowing, and disturbed sleep and a general feeling of being unwell. In some cases it can lead to localised facial swelling or tender and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
What health problems can a dental abscess cause?
It is rare for complications to develop as a result of a dental abscess, but they can be serious if they do occur. For example, the infection may spread to nearby bones (osteomyelitis). Symptoms of osteomyelitis can include fever, nausea and severe pain in the affected bone. However, as the infection is spread by your blood, it is possible for it to affect any bone in your body.
Extreme cases of dental abscess can result in difficulty breathing and swallowing and require urgent hospitalisation. Treatments for dental abscess may include antibiotics (for short-term relief only) followed by root canal treatment or extraction.
if you feel pain in your mouth and think you have a dental abscess make sure to book in to see your dentist as soon as possible. An abscess will only get better with treatment, and if left untreated will become more painful.